Each of these qualifications could be a paper of its own
a book no less. I won‟t even touch the
aspect of being able to teach and holding to sound doctrine. All this is to say that it seems a
wonder that the only phrase anyone seems to pay attention to is “husband of one wife”; and if
they were really qualified to teach or held to sound doctrine, few would actually think that iswhat it says or even means in the Greek.
This is actually quite a problem. The Greek just doesn‟t say that. Given what it says, thetranslation “husband of one wife” makes some sense, but quite a bit is lost in that translation.
What it actually says is
of which, in their roughest state of translation, translates as “one woman man.” The ESV evengives “a man of one woman” as an alternate reading. It is easy to see
how this quickly gets
turned into “husband of one wife.”
Even so, this is unsatisfactory for many reasons. The most obvious is the fact, apparent to
any pastor having been in the office for any amount of time, being “the husband of one wife”
does not necessitate being a man of one woman. This situation is not new to our day. A cursoryreading of the Old and New Testaments makes it abundantly clear that the temptation for multiple sex partners has been around for a while. Many men manage to stay married to onewoman while having mistresses and multiple extramarital trysts along the way.
However, the text has a long history of being translated “husband of one wife,” and has
more or less been interpreted to mean that through the years. Yet, even in this translation, it hasnot always been considered that digamy was the issue being addressed, as it is thought today and
taken for granted by Scharlemann in his paper. “Digamy” is an old word used to describe the
issue of remarriage after the lawful termination of a first marriage, whether because of death or divorce. A peculiar case for this interpretation is made in
The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Vol.
. Commenting on
in the third chapter of Timothy, Newport maintains:
, of course does not mean that the episcopus must be, or have been,married. What is here forbidden is digamy under any circumstances. This view issupported (a) by the general drift of the qualities required here in a bishop; self control or temperance, in his use of food and drink, possessions, gifts, temper; (b) by thecorresponding requirement in a church widow v. 9
, and (c) by the practice of the early church
However, Newport is forced to undermine point c in his very next paragraph concedingthat, whatever the practice of the early church was, it was not based on their understanding of theverse in question. The early commentators on this passage thought it was dealing with somethingfar different than digamy. He continues:
On the other hand, it must be conceded that the patristic commentators on the passage(with the partial exception of Chrysostom)
Theodore Mops. Theodoret, Theophylact,Oecumenius, Jerome
suppose that it is bigamy or polygamy that is here forbidden.
White, Newport, Edited by w. Robertson Nicoll, “
The Expositior’s Greek Testament Vol IV
” (New York, Hodder
and Stoughton, 1912) Pgs 111-12